US Georgia Gulf begins turnaround at Louisiana chlor-alkali plant

03 May 2012 20:57  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Georgia Gulf began this week a scheduled turnaround at its Plaquemine, Louisiana, chlor-alkali facility that is expected to last several weeks, company officials confirmed Thursday.

CEO Paul Carrico said the operation is one of the “more substantial turnarounds” that the facility will have undergone in several years.

Carrico made his comments during an earnings conference call.While he did not give a specific timetable or its impact on production, he said it should not extend into the third quarter.

The Plaquemine plant has a caustic soda capacity of 410,000 tonnes/year and a chlorine capacity of 365,000 tonne/year, according to ICIS plants and projects.

Georgia Gulf also produces vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) at Plaquemine. The turnaround does not involve the VCM and PVC units, the company said.

Looking ahead, Carrico said the recent, precipitous drop in natural gas prices, driven by the shale gas boom, has created a new cost-advantage for US petrochemical manufacturing in general and for the Atlanta-based company in particular.

Georgia Gulf officials are also cautiously optimistic that US homebuilding will begin to recover this year, which Carrico said would bode well for the company through the rest of 2012.

Carrico said that domestic demand for polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the key end-product in the chlor-alkali chain which is used extensively in construction, seems to be picking up, while export demand is softening a bit.

Price initiatives for PVC announced by Georgia Gulf and other producers for May are still under discussion, Carrico said.

Previously announced initiatives for caustic soda are still uncertain, he said.

The officials did not discuss the unsolicited buyout offer from competitor Westlake during the conference call.

Follow Ken Fountain on Twitter

($1 = €0.76)

By: Ken Fountain

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